Speech: International Conference on "The Role and Responsibilities of Awareness Institutions in Countering Violent Extremism and Hate Speech"

Jul 2, 2017

Speech by Ms. Randa Aboul Hosn, UNDP Country Director

Your Excellency Dr.  Mohamed Fayek, President of the National Council for Human Rights

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Egypt, I am pleased to participate in this international conference which brings together Human Rights organisations from the Arab Region and the world to discuss The Role and Responsibilities of Awareness Institutions in Countering Violent Extremism and Hate Speech.

The world is witnessing waves of violent extremism that has taken the lives of many innocent people of different faiths, races and nationalities. Violent extremism undermines peace and security, human rights and sustainable development and no country or region is immune.

Violent Extremism in itself is not new. However, the cross-border and transnational reach of violent extremist groups is new. This means governments and societies face new and more complex challenges. While violent extremism requires intervention to protect the security of people and assets; its prevention needs to look at development-related causes and solutions. Experiences in development and peace-building show that greater inclusion and tolerance in communities increases societies’ immunity against violent extremism. Tolerance and intercultural understanding are at the heart of the new development agenda.

In January 2016, the Secretary-General presented his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. The Plan is an appeal for concerted action by the international community to prevent the further spread of  this phenomenonand  the  focus is primarily on prevention. The plan proposes a 3-pronged approach:

  • First, To Address the drivers of violent extremism
  • Second, To Set the policy frameworks at the global, regional and national levels. Here, member  states are called upon to develop national plans of action and address the local drivers.  Member States should also come together to adopt new and complementary regional or subregional plans of action. 
  • Third, To Take action. Prominent action areas include Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women; Education; Skill development; Employment Facilitation; and Strategic Communications, the Internet and Social Media.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNDP takes a development approach to the prevention of violent extremism (PVE) which is fully in line with the UN Secretary General’s Plan of Action. UNDP does not seek to solely address the manifestations of the phenomenon, but its underlying causes as well. The UNDP strategy is  based on eleven interlinked building blocks that can help prevent violent extremism:  

  1. Providing an effective socio-economic alternatives to violence for groups at risk;
  2. Enhancing  participatory decision-making and civic space at national and local level;
  3. Promoting the rule of law and human rights-based approach to PVE; 
  4. Fighting against corruption; 
  5. Enhancing participatory decision-making;
  6. Strengthening the capacity of local governments for service delivery and security;
  7. Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment,
  8. Engaging youth in building social cohesion;
  9. Working with faith-based organizations and religious leaders to counter the abuse of religion by violent extremists;
  10. Working with the media to promote human rights and tolerance;
  11. Promoting respect for human rights, diversity and a culture of global citizenship. 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNDP has developed a Regional Programme Framework for the Arab States designed to support national counterparts and civil society actors to prevent and address the drivers and consequences of violent extremism.   

In Bahrain, for example, UNDP supported the organization of an Experts’ Meeting on the Role of Youth in Prevention of Violent Extremism for a better understanding of the potential drivers for extremism and radicalization of young people in the MENA region and to discuss the wider issue of youth empowerment. 

In Iraq, UNDP is supporting the establishment of the Foundation for Countering Violent Extremism in Anbar Governorate. 

In Jordan, UNDP is providing support to strengthen the enabling environment to counter violent extremism through the development of a National Strategy. The programme includes promoting Counter Narratives to violent extremism and developing the capacity of the media and social workers for Prevention of violent extremism. 

In Egypt, UNDP is working with the Cairo Center for Peacekeeping  and Conflict Resolution  to build national capacities in areas of cross border challenges including combating terrorism and the extremist ideology leading to it. The Center is conducting training for African countries on Preventing Radicalization and Extremism. The Center approaches prevention of radicalization as a community-based engagement, using inclusive traditional and Islamic narratives. The program aims to equip local leaders and influencers with the necessary knowledge and skills to refute extremist interpretations of Islam, while propagating an alternative narrative of peace and coexistence within their local communities.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In closing, I wish to acknowledge the long-standing and fruitful partnership between UNDP and the National Council for Human Rights and to commend the Council for taking the lead to organize this international conference and to substantively contribute to the national, regional and international discourse on preventing violent extremism and hate speech. 

I highly appreciate the selection of prominent speakers and the agenda covering the whole spectrum of awareness raising stakeholders including educational, religious and media institutions.  We look forward to fruitful deliberations and the outcome document of  this conference to guide development efforts in this critical area. 

In his statement at Informal Meeting of the General Assembly for the Briefing by the Secretary-General on his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the 70th session of the General Assembly said “..to be truly effective, our approach to prevention must stay faithful to our common humanity and to our aspirations to secure peace and security, sustainable development, rule of law and respect for human rights”

Thank you.